Autumn can feel like a season of contractions. Sometimes it’s associated with melancholy and sorrow, but at the same time, it’s the season of harvest and thanksgiving when we pause to count the blessings that have ripened from the seeds we sowed the rest of the year. Here are some quotations and reflections to help those of us in the northern hemisphere celebrate and savor this special season.
Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower. - Albert Camus
I’m in the autumn of life—my second spring. Each day, I try to nourish the flowering of maturity—a maturity that understands and accepts with grace that life is a mixture of joys and sorrows, successes and disappointments, and that peace and contentment come from meeting each day, however difficult, with curiosity and purpose.
My sorrow, when she's here with me, thinks these dark days of autumn rain are beautiful as days can be; she loves the bare, the withered tree; she walks the sodden pasture lane. - Robert Frost
These words remind me of a quotation I’ve shared before that comes from Ann Packer’s novel, The Dive from Clausen’s Pier: “Lonely is a funny thing. It’s almost like another person. After a while it will keep you company if you let it.” As they walk the sodden pasture lane together, Frost’s sorrow keeps him company and helps him see the beauty in the autumn rain and in the bare, withered tree.
No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of spring.- Samuel Johnson
To truly appreciate the present moment, we have to let go of the past—delighting in spring flowers while they last, but not expecting their scent to linger forever. When our minds are lost in thoughts about the past, we miss what this moment has to offer. Even if it isn’t as delightful as the scent of spring flowers, our only chance at happiness is to engage this moment fully as it is—to taste its fruits.
Summer ends, and Autumn comes, and he who would have it otherwise would have high tide always and a full moon every night.
- Hal Borland
Like the quotation before it, this one is also about being lost in the past. We can try to fashion every aspect of our experience to be to our liking and seek to have it stay that way—a tide that’s high and a moon that’s full—but it would be a futile mission and a recipe for disappointment and unhappiness because the universal law of impermanence will always have its way!
It was one of those perfect English autumnal days which occur more frequently in
memory than in life. - P.D. James
As a P.D. James fan, I was so glad to find a quotation from her that I could include. Her protagonist, Commander Adam Dalgliesh of New Scotland Yard, writes poetry. Perhaps it was from his lips that she had these words flow. And perhaps our British friends can explain why perfect autumnal days occur more frequently in memory than in life!
Falling leaves hide the path so quietly. - John Bailey
Reading this, I thought of the various ways I might hide a path, but none of them were as quiet as leaves falling.
Delicious autumn! My very soul is wedded to it, and if I were a bird I would fly about the earth seeking the successive autumns.
- George Eliot (Mary Anne Evans)
Eliot doesn’t tell us why her soul is wedded to autumn. Is yours? If so, why?
And now three poems—not in need of commentary from me:
The one red leaf, the last of its clan,
That dances as often as dance it can,
Hanging so light, and hanging so high,
On the topmost twig that looks up at the sky.
- Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
- Emily Bronte
No spring nor summer hath such grace,
As I have seen in one autumnal face.
- John Donne
I’ll close with:
Autumn is a season followed immediately by looking forward to spring.
- Doug Larson
I saved this for last because I’m taking it as a challenge to find some winter quotations that will have us thinking otherwise. I’ve got three months to do it!